Francis was referring to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul that closed the door on a female priesthood. The Vatican says this teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.
The reporter then pressed the pope, asking: “But forever, forever? Never, never?
Francis responded: "If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction."Pope Francis's recent remarks were made while speaking in a somewhat informal news conference on a plane headed from Sweden to Rome, so they do not constitute a formal statement. It was also not clear whether he has made the careful investigation that he proposed be done. However, it does signal that he considers the matter mostly closed and so may be less likely to pursue the matter. There is also the matter of women's roles in other forms of leadership (e.g., as deacons), but this was apparently not discussed.